Relaxation The Israeli Experience Magazine

Desert Days

The mud plaster huts of the "Desert Days" complex in the communal settlement of Tzukim, which is located in the Arava region, are not connected to the national infrastructure system. They have no television, Jacuzzi or air-conditioning. So what do they have? Plenty of quietness, landscape, nature, a desert atmosphere and the sky. Everything that you need for an “offline” vacation
by: Meirav Amitai Cohen   |   25.12.2011
Do you know how it is when a young couple decides that they want to leave behind their 9 am to 5 pm office work, to get away from the noise of the city and the commotion of the shopping malls and to set up a new life and a home in some place far away in the wide and open spaces which also has a view? Well, you have probably heard of more than one or two such cases. Do you know how it is when that same young couple decides to build their new home in the desert and to create it out of home made bundles of straw that are covered with a mud plaster? Hmmm...

A Place in which to Maintain Your Sanity

So here, please meet Rinat Bashan and Yair Vilenski, who are today a couple and parents to two children of 9 and 12 years of age. Rinat came originally from the city of Haifa and Yair came from Tel Aviv. They met in the town of Karkur but searched for something different. "We wanted to find a place in which we would be able to fulfill a dream, a piece of land where we would be able to cultivate things and grow ourselves, to create and produce things”, says Rinat Bashan. Their dream started becoming a reality in the communal settlement of Tzukim, which is located in the Arava region of Israel. Here Rinat and Yair have found vast spaces, nature and meaningful disconnectedness from the race of everyday life and its distractions. "A place in which one can maintain his or her sanity”, as Rinat says. They have found an area of land as well and knew that they wanted to live and make a living on it and not to go back to working on a computer in an office. "In accordance with the place and the spirit of things we have decided to build ecological mud huts”, Rinat says. We are talking about a hard manual labor of covering straw bundles with several layers of mud plaster, a labor in which also took part several volunteers from all around the world as a part of a project which was initiated through an organization by the name of GoEco which promotes contributing to the environment.

To Feel the Real Weather

At "Desert Days" there is electricity and also water but they are not connected to anything. Here it is about being fed by nature and also about feeding it in return, as well as saving on environmental resources in the deepest sense. Here at "Desert Days" there are 9 huts, all of which are suitable for couples as well as for families (of up to 6 people) and all of them are not connected to the national sewage or electricity systems, but they definitely provide these basic services. How is that possible? "The water is ‘grey water’ which goes back to the land in order to irrigate it. The electricity is solar, and that means that it is being used sparingly – in the winter we use wood for heating and in the summer no air conditioners are being used here. For this reason the place is closed from mid June and until mid August, as even if we are already used to this climate, our guests might find it difficult. From mid August and until mid September the place is open and only the very brave come to stay here with us”, Rinat says laughingly. "During these months we rest and also build some additional structures, such as creation rooms, sitting areas and playground facilities for the children”. Rinat believes that everything is in one’s head and that there is something that is very enjoyable in sitting in the shade in wet clothes and feeling the breeze which almost always blows around in the desert, feeling the real weather, without the artificial interference of an air conditioner. Did anyone say "no to waste” and did not get an answer?

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

The huts at "Desert Days" are minimalistic and equipped with a double bed and with mattresses which lay on the ground for the children. In three of the huts there is a kitchenette which includes a small refrigerator and in the other huts there is a coffee area. All of the huts are equipped with a shower and a toilet, but not really the toilets that you are familiar with. This is a compost facility which does not use water. You do not see anything or smell anything and the natural waste is covered with sawdust, and after two years the natural materials decompose and turn into an excellent fertilizer which has already been used by the couple for the planting of trees which have given magnificent results. Each of the units at "Desert Days" has a private courtyard with an area for a bonfire and a hammock, from which can be seen the desert landscape of the Arava region – the Edom Mountains to the east and the cliffs of the Tzofar Stream to the west. To those that are addicted to the television, it is important to mention that there is no television here, nor a Jacuzzi or an air conditioner, as said before, but instead of these there is plenty of atmosphere here. In the cool evenings the guests at "Desert Days" gather together, some with their families and others with their large group of friends who come here all together for a shared meal, guitar or drum playing (whatever they managed to get into their cars) or just an evening spent in chatting and looking at the stars. Is there anything more relaxed than this?

"Desert Days", an ecological vacation resort, telephone: 972-52-6170028.
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Phone: 052-6170078      Address: Tzukim      More Details
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